Although the Cambodian equestrian team brought home just a single bronze at the 2017 SEA games in Malaysia, president of the Cambodian Equestrian Federation Tep Mona is confident that the team will use their home advantage to improve their tally at the 32nd games.

Mona told The Post that “with the training regime we are following and the consecutive events we are organising, we hope that we will be able to make an impact in the SEA games. We are looking forward to fighting for gold medals and believe we will have several good chances of medaling. After all, we will be representing not just our team, but our country.”

Her confidence was boosted by the successful outcome of the National Show Jumping Competition, held last Sunday at the Cambodian Country Club. The Federation intends to hold similar events every six weeks and believes it will give all of their young athletes – especially national representatives – a competitive edge. It will improve not just their jumping abilities, but the emotional bond between horses and riders.

“For show jumping events, we have now found the measure of our horses and our athletes. We hope to improve in the future, but we must bear in mind that this not a simple sport – both the horse and rider must work as one to clear the bars smoothly, so we must train both, while building a trusting relationship between them,” Mona added.

For the upcoming games, Cambodia, as the host, will need to field a team of at least 25 horses. So far the equestrian federation has bought and trained 10 mounts – purchased both domestically and from abroad. Among them are several high performance thoroughbreds that are capable of clearing obstacles of up to 1.20m, she said.

“Some of our horses are already performing well – we just need to ensure that each one feels a connection with their rider, because the two need an empathetic relationship if they are going to jump well and clear all 12 bars,” she said.

“At the 2023 SEA Games, we are looking forward to introducing 1.20 to 1.25m high jump events. We have one or two horses that can already compete at this level, but we’ll use the time before the games to train more and guarantee their consistency. We have hired local and international trainers and still are confident we will accomplish our goals,” she added.

“In addition, we have sent coaches abroad to train. In the past, our athletes often went overseas to train and compete, and when Covid-19 is under control we expect them to resume this – probably in Thailand and France,” she said.

“We also plan to invite some ASEAN teams to compete with us one by one in the build up to the games. This will give us an opportunity to measure our progress and gain experience,” she added.